Ibero-American Colonial Art

Steps in the Research Process

As a researcher, practicing a sort of "scientific method" for searching is benefical, and gets easier with practice.

1) Brainstorming and Planning
In this step, you brainstorm your possible keywords to include in your search. Consider terminology specific to your assignment or project, and brainstorm synonyms to your keywords ahead of time. Plan to keep track of keywords and phrases as you search - you will run across expert phrases you had not thought of initially and will want to try those out as you refine your search.

2) Construct a Search Strategy
After developing keyword lists, you will need to think about how to put these terms together into a search strategy. Where will you go to search? How will you combine your keywords?

3) Selecting & Searching Databases and Websites
Selecting appropriate databases to search may be the most critical step in the search process, after developing keywords. Plan on searching more than one database more than once. You will need to tailor your keywords and search strategy for each database. 

4) Evaluate Your Search
Literature searching is not a linear process. It is important to stop and evaluate your results as you go along in order to make modifications and improvements to your search strategies. Just like laboratory research, literature searching is an iterative process!

5) Manage Your Results
After conducting your searches, you will need a way to keep track of the information that you have located. A citation manager such as Zotero can help you to organize your search results.

Scholarly Conversation

Think about:

  • What perspectives are presented?
  • Who has the strongest voice in this conversation? Why?
  • How would you evaluate the authority of the authors?
  • Who are the intended audiences?
  • How would you involve yourself in this conversation?